Tuesday, August 16, 2022



‘But truly, as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, there is but a step between me and death.’

The Old Testament reading set for Morning Prayer today is 1 Samuel 20:1-17 and records a conversation between David and his dear friend Jonathan. David is (rightly) convinced that Jonathan’s father, Saul, intends to kill him. Jonathan is sure that if that were the case, his father would have confided in him. David responds that Saul is keeping his intention from Jonathan, because he knows that it will grieve him. And David reasserts that ‘there is but a step between me and death.’

As far as I am aware, no one is out to murder me. Yet though the particulars differ, David reveals a universal truth: there is but a step between me and death. People die, every day, people we know and love, and people known and loved by others, and for the most part we do not know the hour of our death. Such knowledge is hidden from us, and for good reason. Nonetheless, we are all but a step away from death, though for as long as our steps run in parallel, we live.

This morning, the lines came close for me. As I stood waiting for the lights to change, to cross a three-lane road, an approaching car in the far lane slowed down and stopped. Assuming the light had gone red for traffic, and was about to turn green for pedestrians, I cautiously stepped into the road. A taxi pulled out from behind the waiting driver into the middle lane and blasted me with its horn. I have no idea why the other driver would stop for a pedestrian when it was not safe, for them or the pedestrian, to do so. But in any case, my steps and death did not converge. One day, perhaps even later this day, they will.

Life is a gift, from God. Death brings that gift to an end, even though I believe God has gifts for us beyond this life. There are times when that gift seems strange or unwelcome, too much or too little to bear. It is perfectly valid to ask the Giver, ‘What is this for?’ or, ‘Is it meant to be like this? Has it somehow been broken, and can it be repaired?’ Such questions are good, even when we do not receive an answer, immediately or at all, or the answer we were hoping for. The kind of gift that life is, is a mystery, too deep to be understood, too vast to be contained in our understanding. To receive it at all calls on our heart and mind and strength and soul, and even combined we cannot fathom its depths.

All that said, this day, receive the gift held out. This day, choose life. And when the time comes to step in time with death, know that Life has chosen you, to rest in peace and rise again in glory.


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